I’m a planner. I approach each day with a good sense of what I’m going to do, where I’m going to go, and what I need to accomplish. For the most part, I’m deliberate, calculated, and goal-oriented. Yet surprisingly, the best things in my life were stumbled upon accidentally.
The prime example is my husband, Dave. Eleven years ago, we randomly sat next to each other on a train departing New York City. It had been a completely unremarkable work day otherwise, a mirror image of the day before. But THAT day I just happened to sit down next to a handsome stranger who changed the entire trajectory of my life with a simple hello.
Another example happened just recently. Dave and I have been househunting for the better part of the past 4 years. Early on our marriage, we moved A LOT. At one point, we were averaging a move a year. We sold our last home 4 years ago, just before the real estate market crashed. We felt like we had dodged a bullet and decided to rent while the economic meltdown worked itself out. We’ll rent for six months, we told ourselves. A year tops.
Four years later…we’re still renters.
Part of our dilemma is that after moving so much early on, we finally felt ready to buy our “forever home” and settle in for the long term, but there was no one house that met all of our needs. In a span of four years, we looked at several hundred homes online and in person and something was always wrong. The house was either too big or too small, or the perfect size but horribly decorated, or well-decorated but mold-infested, or mold-free but in a bad school district, or in a great school district with enormous taxes, or next to an airport, or underneath power lines, or next to train tracks, or on a street with a ridiculous name that I’d be embarrassed to tell people (like Light Horse Harry Rd). One house that we really loved had a dying bird on the front porch, which felt so much like a bad omen that we had to leave immediately.
It got to the point where it felt like we had seen every single home in our area. New listings would come up and we wouldn’t even go see them because we’d know at a glance that neighborhood backs up to the highway or those homes are poorly built.
Finally, we decided to expand our search parameters to a new area a bit west of us. The search results delivered a listing for a townhouse that advertised creek views. Though we weren’t in the market for another townhouse, we were intrigued because some sort of “water view” has long been on our wishlist. So we decided to take a look. Our friends also told us about a detached house in Aurora that looked good but once we’d seen the townhouse, we were in love.
The creek views were amazing. The 1980’s dark wood trim and fire engine red brick foyer were not. We chalked it up as another miss and were on our way out of the neighborhood when we noticed a lovely little brick ranch on a charming corner lot. For some reason, it hadn’t come up in our search results, and even though we’d never considered a ranch, it appeared to have potential. We called the listing agent and discovered that the owners had relocated to Florida and we could see the property right away.
It too had a creek view, and the open floor plan and hardwood floors were much more “our speed”. We went through our mental checklist. Not too big, not too small. Good school district. Reasonable taxes. Nice street name. No airports, powerlines, train tracks, or highways to threaten our peace and quiet. Private yard with exquisite landscaping, mature trees, and birdhouses full of healthy birds. And the icing on the cake: a dual-sided fireplace that we could cozy up to all winter long.
We returned the next day and tried to figure out what was wrong with it – in four years of searching, no house had ever been flawless – but we came up empty. Was it possible that after years of disappointments and let downs, we had stumbled upon our forever home completely by accident?
Turns out…it was. We put in an offer the next day, negotiated with the sellers, and settled a few weeks ago. We haven’t moved in yet because we’re painting and making a few updates (which is why I haven’t been around much lately), but every time I walk through our forever home with my forever man, I realize that I couldn’t have planned it any better.
Have you ever stumbled upon happiness?